Weekly Memo

July 15, 2013

Dear members of the Hajim School community:

     Several issues back, I mentioned I would have the honor of co-teaching one of our University's first online Coursera courses, called "Fundamentals of Audio and Music Engineering," with Mark Bocko, chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering. We successfully "launched" on schedule. A total of 30,856 persons signed up for the course, almost as many as John Covach's History of Rock and Roll. And thanks to Eric Fredericksen, our associate vice president for online learning, we have some interesting breakdowns. Of the 5,400 students who responded to our survey for the AME class, Eric discovered that 55 percent have a college degree, and about 69 percent are overseas. Interestingly, Brazil and Spain, which are not strongly represented in our enrollment here, were among the top three nations from which students enrolled.

      Even more interesting, I think, is that 46 percent of those surveyed said they had never heard of the University of Rochester, and virtually all of the rest had heard of the UR but had no connection to it (and presumably no extensive knowledge of us). My main takeaway from all of this: We are reaching individuals across the globe in domains where we were previously unknown, and with nearly 100,000 students signed up for our first four courses, at least we've gotten our name out to a lot of people who wouldn't have otherwise had an opportunity to engage with us, in the company of a lot of other great educational institutions.

     Congratulations to Dustin Moore, an Optics graduate student working with Prof. Jim Fienup, for winning "best student presentation" award at a recent Adaptive Optics topical meeting held by the Optical Society of America. Dustin's paper was entitled "Wavefront Sensing by Phase and Modal Amplitude Retrieval."

     And congratulations to Daniel Stefankovic, assistant professor of Computer Science, who has received an NSF grant of $399,703 for "Identifying sampling problems with efficient algorithms."
The product of this research will be efficient sampling algorithms and an improved understanding of obstacles to efficient sampling. The results will be transferred to both undergraduate and graduate teaching, and the award will help support two PhD students in the area of sampling and counting algorithms.

     A warm welcome to a delegation from The National Research University ITMO (Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics) in St. Petersburg, Russia, who are visiting us this week as guests of The Institute of Optics. NRU ITMO is the leading school in information and optical technologies in Russia. Sergei Kozlov, dean of photonics and optical information technology, and Yaroslav Grachev, vice chief of the Pulsed THz spectroscopy lab, will discuss possibilities for research collaboration with our University. We are honored to have them here!

    I am pleased to report that more than 60 percent of the staff and faculty of the Hajim School contributed to this year's United Way campaign, placing it among a "select group" of UR departments and units to exceed that threshold, according to Andrea DeMeo, executive director and COO of the Center for Community Health. I thank all of you who contributed!

    As always, keep me updated and have a great week.


Robert L. Clark
Professor and Dean